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Scene from Two Weddings, One Bride

Two Weddings, One Bride: Cheat Sheet

All you need to know for a fun night of operetta

This article was first published by Opera Australia


What is operetta?

Operas, musicals, operettas — these musical forms all sit somewhere on the same spectrum of entertainment. They are stories, set to music, performed on stage.

You can think of ‘operetta’, as the name implies, like a ‘little opera’. Operettas are often short, with frivolous stories and light music. Operettas don’t pretend at real life, they don’t present tragedies. They are created for diversion: to amuse and entertain.

Two Weddings, One Bride in a Nutshell

The composers

Robert Greene working with the giants of operetta: Strauss, Offenbach, Lehár, Kalman, Lecocq and Stolz.

The music

The best waltzes, songs and dances from the golden age of operetta.

The setting

Colonial French Morocco.

A quirky fact to impress your date

Adolf Hitler loved operetta, and made some Jewish composers and their associates 'honorary Aryans'.

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The Bride dances with her two husbands
Andrew Jones as General Modigliani, Julie Lea Goodwin as Giroflé / Girofla and Nicholas Jones as Marasquin in Opera Australia’s 2017 production of Two Weddings, One Bride. Image: Prudence Upton

A brief history of operetta

French composer Hervé gets the credit for creating operetta. He penned L’Ours et le pacha in 1842, taking some of the conventions of opéra comique and marrying it with vaudeville.

But it was Jacques Offenbach’s elaborate, risqué works that really propelled operetta into the popular consciousness.

His music was infectious and his stories offered humour with bite (for example, Orpheus in the Underworld, 1858).

Best of all, his operettas were erotic and sometimes downright pornographic, performed by courtesans in Paris to theatres filled with men.

The giants of Viennese operetta took the form in a different direction. Johann Strauss wrote nostalgic, sentimental works, full of dance music and romance (think Die Fledermaus, 1874). Franz Lehár continued his legacy with The Merry Widow (1905). Emmerich Kálmán moved from Hungary to the hotspot of operetta, Vienna in the early twentieth century. He fused Viennese waltz with Hungarian folk dance.

Gilbert and Sullivan, flying the flag for English operetta, wrote fourteen comic operas, including H.M.S Pinafore (1878), The Pirates of Penzance (1879) and The Mikado (1885).

Victor Herbert was the most famous American operetta composer (Naughty Marietta, 1910, Sweethearts, 1913).

Geraldine Turner as Aurore, the mother of the bride in Two Wedding's One Bride
Geraldine Turner as Aurore in Opera Australia’s 2017 production of Two Weddings, One Bride. Image: Prudence Upton

About Two Weddings, One Bride

We created this laugh-out-loud comedy to give some of the most delightful songs of operetta an outing.

The golden age of operetta in Europe gave the world a thousand hit melodies: songs, waltzes and polkas with unforgettable tunes. But the stories often let down the melody. Today, only a few operettas still make audiences howl with laughter.

Robert Greene took a farcical French story by Charles Lecocq and fashioned a score featuring all of your favourite songs by Strauss, Offenbach, Lehár and Kálmán. It’s like a jukebox musical, made of operetta.

The story takes place on one illustrious day: the wedding of identical twin girls, Giroflé and Girofla. But when pirates kidnap Girofla, Giroflé and her parents are forced into a ridiculous series of plots and schemes to keep two grooms blissfully unaware.

Joyful melodies, elaborate costumes and pretty sets will take you all the way to French Morocco in our very own operetta Two Weddings, One Bride.

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